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Carson, 2016 GOP Hopefuls in S.C. Blast Obama, Call for Spiritual Renewal

By    |   Saturday, 09 May 2015 08:40 PM

GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson told South Carolina Republicans Saturday that "there has been plenty of change" under President Barack Obama, "but there is little hope."

"That is what is killing us," Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon, told a cheering crowd at the South Carolina Freedom Summit at the Peace Center in downtown Greenville.

The event brought 11 GOP presidential candidates and hopefuls to the Palmetto State, which hosts its primaries on Feb. 20. The summit was co-hosted by South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and the conservative nonprofit limited-government group Citizens United.

"So many of our problems are linked to a poor economy," said Carson, who declared his candidacy last Monday. "This has been a long recovery and we are still in a recovery process.

"Some people will tell you, like this administration, that things are great. Unemployment is down to 5.4 percent. We have all these wonderful jobs.

"One of the reasons that a lot of people are frustrated and rioting is when they open their eyes and look around, they don't see it," Carson said.

Other Republican candidates speaking at the summit included Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Among the hopefuls who addressed the crowd were Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin; former Govs. George Pataki of New York and Rick Perry of Texas; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, and billionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Those currently serving in Washington who spoke were South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, and Iowa Rep. Steve King.

The South Carolina summit follows similar events held over the past month in Iowa, which holds its caucuses Feb. 1-2, and New Hampshire, where the nation's first primaries will be held on Feb. 9.

The speakers widely slammed President Obama on many fronts, from Obamacare to stifling federal regulations, from Common Core to the Iran nuclear framework and national security, and called for unwavering support for Israel and religious liberty.

They demanded that the nation's tax code, spanning nearly 80,000 pages, be scrapped — and, thus, abolishing the IRS — while urging a flat tax or simpler structure that is fair to all Americans.

"There is $2 trillion of our money sitting overseas that corporations are not bringing back here because they don't want to face that taxation," Carson said. "What if we just said we are giving you a tax holiday for six months and let the money come back into our country?

"That would be a wise move," he told the crowd. "That would be a major stimulus. It wouldn't cost taxpayers a single dime."

Both Cruz and Pataki, among others, highlighted the threat of the Islamic State and radical jihadism — citing last Sunday's shooting of two pro-ISIS sympathizers at an anti-Muslim event in Garland, Texas.

"We saw the ugly face of Islamic terrorism in my home state of Texas," Cruz said. "Thankfully, one police officer helped those terrorists meet their virgins."

Pataki cited one of the shooters, who was born in Illinois and had Twitter posts of jihadists, as the main reason why "we must shut down every radical Islamist trying to recruit people for ISIS here.

"It is a crime, whether it is on the Internet or in a prison. Shut it down," he said. "There is no question it is constitutional. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. It does not require us to allow our enemies to inspire hatred and violence here."

Bolton said national security would be the defining issue of the 2016 presidential election, charging that Obama "believes that national security gets in the way of his Number One priority, which he told us in 2008, was to transform the country.

"National security is a distraction from that, which is why he doesn't pay any attention to it," he said. "The Republican Party is the party of national security."

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was targeted by many speakers, with Bolton saying that "her foreign and defense policies are indistinguishable from Barack Obama's. The failure of his administration are her failures."

The clearest example of that was the 2012 Benghazi attacks in which four Americans died, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two former Navy SEALs. Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the assaults.

"That act alone disqualifies her from being president of the United States," Bolton said.

Fiorina, too, said that Clinton should not be in the White House "because she is not trustworthy, and she does not have a record of accomplishment."

Some of the hopefuls even attacked each other, with Trump accusing Walker of plagiarism in using his "make America great" phase at the end of his speech earlier Saturday.

"Make America great again," Trump said. "I say it. I actually have an application for copyright and have for a long time."

First referring to Walker as "a certain politician," Trump then said, "I was talking about making America great again, which is my thing, which is important.

"I could come up with other themes. So can they, but they copy my themes all the time."

He then identified Walker, adding, "Scott Walker is a nice guy also." He said the governor recently visited his New York office, giving him a plaque.

"But then he copied my theme. I don't like him," Trump said to laughter.

Walker, the first presidential hopeful to speak, used the phrase twice at the end of his rousing speech, saying lastly: "Let's go forward making America great again."

Later addressing the crowd, Perry said that Obama "epitomized" what he called "the delusional thinking of the left."

It is, he said, "where criminals obey gun laws, where state sponsors of terrorism will put down their arms to obey a nuclear agreement, where radical groups like ISIS are not religious in nature.

"Now the rest of us, we subscribe to what I refer to as reality-based thinking: where terrorist armies must be defeated by strength not words; where radical nations should not be appeased, they've got to be opposed; where the best defense against crime is an armed citizen," Perry said to the cheering crowd.

Speaking briefly, Rubio recounted how his parents emigrated from Cuba and worked menial jobs after their arrival in the United States. But he praised them for saving their money, raising four children, buying a home and living the "American dream."

"They were never rich or famous, but they were successful," he said, adding that his parents had "limited skills," but "it paid enough for them to get a better life."

Rubio, who declared his candidacy last month, said that many Americans are now wondering if those days are over. He said the U.S. economy is still struggling and America is being challenged all over the world — by Iran, Russia and China.

"There are questions about whether the American dream will survive much longer."

In his speech, Jindal accused Obama of "trying to turn the American dream into a European nightmare" with policies that are seeking to divide the nation by exploiting geographical and political differences — and religious beliefs.

Under the president, liberals "tolerate everybody except those who have the temerity to disagree with them," Jindal said in expressing his strong support of traditional marriage.

"The United States of America did not create religious liberty," he declared. "Religious liberty created the United States of America."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson told South Carolina Republicans Saturday that there has been plenty of change under President Barack Obama, but there is little hope. That is what is killing us, Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon, told a...
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Saturday, 09 May 2015 08:40 PM
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